Research shows malarial parasites resist drug treatments
Malaria, which is transmitted through mosquito bites, causes fever, headache, vomiting and fatigue and may result in death. Through the mosquito bite, the Plasmodium parasite infects red blood cells within the body’s bloodstreams. The parasite uses hemoglobin -- protein in the blood that carries oxygen -- to create hemozoin, a protein that is essential for parasite survival. Some anti-malarial drugs stop the parasites from digesting hemoglobin, but now malaria has developed resistance to these treatments as well.
The Leiden University scientists recently developed a mouse parasite that does not have the "Pac-Man" like enzymes that are necessary to digest hemoglobin. These mutated parasites manage to multiply within immature red blood cells without creating hemozoin. Unfortunately, these mutated parasites are also resistant to anti-malarial drug called chloroquine, but are susceptible to artesunate, which may also be effective in stopping parasites from digesting hemoglobin.
The helpful part of this research is that parasites can survive without creating hemozoin, which suggests there may be different ways that malaria parasites resist drugs. These may help researchers develop better malaria treatments in the future.
Further details can be found in The Journal of Experimental Medicine.